Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will leave on Wednesday for a week-long trip to the Olympics in London, Poland, and Israel.
Romney’s visit to Israel will be an opportunity to appeal to both Jewish voters and pro-Israel evangelical voters. He will also take advantage of his good relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose relationship with President Obama is on the rocky side.
Romney aides say the trip is a “listen and learn” tour, meaning the candidate is not planning to make any policy pronouncements. Readers may recall that candidate Barack Obama’s 2008 trip abroad was a huge success, especially when he spoke to a very large audience in Berlin, declaring, “The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand.”
According to Reuters, in London Romney will meet Prime Minister David Cameron and former Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Romney is planning to do some fund raising from Americans living in Britain.
In Warsaw and Gdansk, Romney will hold talks with Polish officials and former Solidarity leader Lech Walesa.
Romney has criticized Obama’s handling of Iran in no uncertain terms, and vowed not to allow it to develop a nuclear weapon. Romney made few friends in Tehran by declaring that “ultimately, regime change is what’s going to be necessary.”
“The focus of the trip really is about learning, listening … and it’s about continuing to project Governor Romney’s strong view that America needs to stand by its allies, particularly allies that are under siege, like Israel,” said Romney foreign policy adviser Dan Senor.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Jerusalem in May and heard complaints from the Israeli leadership about the current state of the U.S.-Israeli relationship, a source familiar with her meetings told Reuters.
Then there’s the fact that President Obama has skipped Israel on his trips to the region.
“It’s not a trivial issue that Obama has not been to Israel during his presidency,” Republican foreign policy expert Michael Goldfarb told Reuters. “Of course he went as a candidate, but he ran as a pro-Israeli figure and in office has not lived up to his promises.”